Dear Vietnamese Friends,
My visit to Denver for the World Youth Day gives me this opportunity to meet you, members of the Vietnamese community of the United States, and to reaffirm my pastoral solicitude and affection for the whole Vietnamese people. I greet each one of you. I greet the community in exile, and I send a special word of esteem and friendship to your brothers and sisters in your homeland, where many are listening to my voice through a radio link-up. I wish to assure you all of my constant prayers for the Church of the 117 Martyrs, for the poor, the sick, the refugees in the camps in Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Within the last two decades many of you left the land of your fathers, facing sufferings and trials of all kinds before you were finally safe and settled. Throughout those difficult circumstances, you found courage also in your faith in Jesus Christ. Now that conditions have improved, the challenge before you is to keep pure and lively your Catholic identity, never giving in to discouragement or sadness, or to attitudes and ways of behaving in contrast with your love of God. . . .
. . . To all of you I make this appeal: Do not forget the Church in Vietnam. Your brothers and sisters in the Faith offer you the example of their fidelity to Christ as they live the Gospel in the difficult situation of their country, and of their willingness to suffer for Christ's sake. You in turn can help them in the moral and material reconstruction of the Church's works of apostolate and service. They need your help to restore and rebuild churches, seminaries, convents, schools, hospitals, and other institutions which have no other aim but to serve the needs of the Vietnamese people.
To the entire Vietnamese people, I express my sincere affection. I admire the courage and tenacity with which they are trying to overcome the great obstacles resulting from the tragic experiences of the past. Perhaps the greatest challenge of the present is to heal any ill feeling or divisions which have grown up between citizens of the same country. Too much suffering has left profound wounds. Reconstruction will only be possible with the cooperation of everyone, and this in turn calls for mutual respect, forgiveness and unity of purpose. All Vietnamese will be able to contribute to building a new and better society if civic and political structures correspond to the deepest aspirations of the people as a whole, aspirations to peace, justice and freedom. May the Vietnamese people, who have survived many moments of difficulty in the past, now succeed in giving their nation the development, progress and unity to which they aspire and to which they have a right.
I commend the whole Vietnamese Catholic community to the intercession of Our Lady of La Vang. She is the living Mother who appeared in 1798 to console the Christians persecuted by the Van Than. Soon the Church in Vietnam, already consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, will celebrate the bicentennial of that event. May the period of preparation for that jubilee be a time of renewed fervor in faith and Christian living, a time of solidarity with the Catholic community in the homeland, a time to remember the past, but also to prepare an even brighter future for the new generations of Vietnamese. May they grow up with healthy pride in their national origin, the riches in their culture, the spiritual greatness of their forebears who stood firm in the face of trials of all kinds.
May our Lord Jesus Christ sustain you all in faith, hope and love. May he bless your families with fidelity, harmony and joy.
God bless the Vietnamese people.